John Menard

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John Menard is a Wisconsin native and founder of the hardware company Menards. Menard has donated at least $80,000 to Republican Party in Wisconsin, and supported Governor Scott Walker's efforts to curb the collective bargaining rights of public employees. He was acknowledged at the privately held Koch seminar in June 2011 in Vail, Colorado for donating at least $1 million to Koch-related causes. [1]

Veteran Reporter Isikoff Details Pay-to-Play Allegations, John Menard Donates More than $1.5M in Secret

Michael Isikoff reported in Yahoo! Politics on March 23, 2015 that John Menard donated over $1.5 million in secret to the Wisconsin Club for Growth (WCFG) in 2011 and 2012.[2] WCFG is at the center of a John Doe criminal probe into possible illegal campaign coordination with Walker's campaign. The contributions "were uncovered among hundreds of emails and internal documents seized by state prosecutors" during the investigation. According to Isikoff, the donations appear to have benefited Menard and his company: "In the past two years, Menard’s company has been awarded up to $1.8 million in special tax credits from a state economic development corporation that Walker chairs, according to state records."[2] In addition, the state Department of National Resources has backed off Menard's company under Walker, though "The agency had repeatedly clashed with Menard and his company under previous governors over citations for violating state environmental laws and had levied a $1.7 million fine against Menard personally, as well as his company, for illegally dumping hazardous wastes."[2]

Bill Allison, a senior fellow at the Sunlight Foundation that investigates money and politics, commented upon hearing of the secret contributions:

“This, in a nutshell, is what’s wrong with the dark-money world we live in...Here’s somebody who obviously has issues before the state, and he’s able to make a backdoor contribution that nobody ever sees. My sense is [political] insiders know about these contributions. It’s only the public that has no idea."[2]

A Menards spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment, according to U.S. News & World Report.[3]

References

  1. Gavin Aronsen, Exclusive: The Koch Brothers' Million-Dollar Donor Club, Mother Jones, September 6, 2011
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Michael Isikoff, Secret $1.5 million donation from Wisconsin billionaire uncovered in Scott Walker dark-money probe, Yahoo! Politics, March 23, 2015.
  3. Scott Bauer, "Walker dismisses report of $1.5 million from Menards owner, followed by tax breaks," U.S. News & World Report, March 24, 2015.